‘Illegal and unconsented destruction’: EA investigates damage at Staffordshire river bank

The Environment Agency (EA) has confirmed it is investigating damage to a river bank in Staffordshire, which has seen trees and vegetation ripped away in what the local wildlife trust has described as ‘illegal and unconsented destruction’.

Damage at river Swarbourn. Source: Nick Mott/Staffordshire Wildlife Trust

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, which shared a video of the damage on X, formerly known as Twitter, showed that the banks of the river Swarbourn near Yoxall had been completely stripped of trees and plants, causing damage to the environment that it said “will take years to undo”. 

Nick Mott, the trust’s river restoration manager, told ENDS: “The mature trees which were ripped out had previously provided both an important habitat corridor for wildlife and river bank protection. This has caused jeopardy to a number of wildlife species; including protected white-clawed crayfish, otter, bats, birds, brown trout and bullhead fish. 

“We’ve offered to help in any way we can to assist with the future recovery of this beautiful stretch of river, river corridor and floodplain.”

Mott added that the trust works with landowners and farmers to “help strike a balance between their businesses and nature”, and encouraged farmers to get in touch before taking “drastic action” such as what took place at the river Swarbourn.

The Rivers Trust described the damage as “devastating” on X and said: “This kind of work is illegal without a permit, disastrous for the local biodiversity, and takes years to repair!”

The EA said: “We have responded to reports of unpermitted works taking place near the banks of the River Swarbourne near Yoxall, Staffordshire this week.

“We have attended the site and requested the contractors stop all work so an environmental investigation can take place.

“We will be working with the land manager and partners, Natural England, Forestry Commission and Staffordshire County Council to conduct analysis and reporting of the land, water and fish to understand the wider ecological impact of the works with a view to identifying any remediation measures.”